Vitamix S30 review: A pricey but handsome way to blend on the run

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.5
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Usability: 7.0
  • Design: 9.0
  • Features: 7.0
Review Date:

The Good The Vitamix S30 offers quality construction and design, blends for drinking on the go, and recipes galore.

The Bad The S30 is expensive, has blades that are tricky to clean by hand, and isn't as powerful as bigger all-purpose blenders.

The Bottom Line Only consider the Vitamix S30 if personal to-go blending and quality are your objectives and saving money isn't.

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In a nod to today's trend of mix-and-go blenders, the historic appliance maker Vitamix has thrown its hat into the travel blending ring. The Vitamix S30 blender is designed to tackle personal blending tasks and is a compelling solution for small-batch smoothie-making and single-person food prep. This is especially true if premium build quality and craftsmanship float your boat. Costing $409, though, it's hard to get over this kitchen gadget's sky-high cost of entry.

Design and features

After the string of budget Hamilton Beach blenders I've reviewed recently, specifically the Stay or Go and MultiBlend machines, I must say that the Vitamix S30 is a welcome change of pace. Tipping the scales at a hefty 12 pounds, the first thing I noticed about this kitchen gadget is its imposing physical size and sheer girth.

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The Vitamix S30 is both handsome and well-built. Colin McDonald/CNET

Standing at a full 15.7 inches (with main 40-ounce jar), the S30 isn't technically any taller than its competitors. The blender's base, however, is significantly more massive. Even if you discount its staggering weight, the device's lower portion takes up almost two-thirds of its total frame. Indeed, the Vitamix's motor housing is practically monolithic in appearance. Furthering the S30's statuesque looks are a glossy-black piano finish, tastefully rounded curves, and impressively solid construction. Honestly, if you ever wondered what Darth Vader's personal smoothie maker might look like, this armor-plated monster is pretty darn close.

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The S30 comes with a travel cup and lid that locks. Colin McDonald/CNET

Built primarily for individual use, the S30 belongs to a growing number of food mixers designed to offer convenient small-batch blending for busy commuters. Along with a traditional pitcher-style mixing jar (40 ounces), Vitamix also includes a 20 ounce container and matching flip-top lid which transforms the vessel into a handy travel cup.

Crafted with the same care as the blender's base, this container feels extremely durable and sports a stout lid-locking mechanism that seals securely with a satisfying snap. Heck, there's even a large u-shaped plastic loop for attaching the jar to bags and straps. Frankly, it puts the 32-ounce travel cups bundled with the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go to shame. They lack a loop, or any way to close them completely for spill-proof toting. That said, Vitamix pins the replacement value of each S30 travel cup at a steep $29.95, almost the entire cost of the Stay or Go blender, cups and all ($39.99).

I also must point out that the Ninja Ultima comes with a set of well-constructed travel jars as well (plus a large 72-ounce main jar). You also can combine ingredients and blend food contents from within the jar, too. Not bad for a $260 blender.

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The standard 40-ounce mixing jar is also sturdy. Colin McDonald/CNET

The S30's standard 40-ounce container isn't too shabby either. While it's shatter-resistant plastic, not fancy tempered glass, the jar boasts thick walls and a large rubbery lid that clamps down over its top firmly. A clear cap features vents that Vitamix promises will guard against spills during blending.

Usability

Thankfully the Vitamix S30 keeps its various parts and controls to a minimum, and that's mostly a good thing. The approach results in a device that's both simple to comprehend and easy to begin operating right away. True to the Vitamix design philosophy, all blender functions are handled by a circular dial on the appliance's front face. Twisting the dial to the right pushes the control mechanism through numbered blending speeds (1 to 10). If you want to perform a pulse rather than blend continuously, just crank the dial to the left (from the off position).

The drawback to this uncomplicated design, though, is that the S30 lacks any kind of fancy blending modes. There's no special button for, say, smoothies or iced drinks that other machines offer, such as the Breville Hemisphere Control Blender or Hamilton Beach MultiBlend. So what does that mean in everyday use? Essentially, you have to become comfortable fiddling with the S30's control knob to settle on right speed for proper blending to happen.

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Crank the dial to make mixes. Colin McDonald/CNET

In the appliance's defense, Vitamix suggests that users start spinning the blades slowly until they "grab" ingredients then urges blender chefs not to fear pushing the motor up to level 10 once a vortex of food begins. The company doesn't skimp on the included documentation, either. In the box is a large quick-start guide and detailed paper manual explaining which types of food should be placed in the jar and where (top, middle, or bottom). My favorite perk, however, is the thick cookbook that's chock-full of blender recipes and lovely color photos. Within its glossy pages are instructions for creating drinks, sauces, batters, and nut butters.

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